I think Russell Norman was probably at the vanguard of creating these stripped back, shabby-industrial areas for eating, and he has done it again in Polpo Smithfield. We arrived at about 5:45 and were immediately seated at the window table, all of us commenting on how impressed we were with the décor and ambience. I love a place that lets you eat at the bar, yank-stylee. Within 20 minutes the rest of the restaurant had filled and there were people waiting at the bar, or outside with drinks, and we were feeling very pleased with ourselves.
Thanks to the discount, and there being three of us, we were able to sample quite a few of the dishes, choosing three each but sharing most of them, and also getting dessert. Instead of listing them all here, I’ll just dive straight in to what we thought of them.
The steak flank with truffle cream, which sounded the most luxurious of all the dishes, was in fact a bit dry and boring. (Not a patch on the one I had on Friday at Flat Iron.) I didn’t really partake in either of the seafood dishes enough to judge them thoroughly. The one prawn I had was nice, and the potato and celery I had from the octopus salad was also fine. But the fact that the guys didn’t feel the meal was outstanding probably shows that I wasn’t missing too much by not eating them.
And after all that we managed to squeeze in dessert. I had the tiramisu pot, which I loved. I love Tiramisu anyway, but this was a really good version. The guys shared (aww, sweet) a strawberry and pistachio cake, and a couple of cannoli with strawberries. I didn’t try either of these, but when I asked Stephen how the cake was, he said I wasn’t missing much.
So, a bit of a mixed bag then for Polpo. Maybe if I hadn’t already been to Salt Yard last year I would have loved it. As it was, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations, though my expectations were extremely high, given all the hype. With the discount applied (and tip only added on to the final discount amount) I was happy with the meal. (It came to £20 a head.) If I’d been paying full price, I think I would have been more irked with what we got.
I may not go back for the food, but they have a Negroni bar downstairs, which we didn't visit, and I'd rather like to give that a shot.